Wait on the LORD: be of good courage,
and he shall strengthen thine heart;
wait, I say, on the LORD.
- Psalm 27:14
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Baptized into Christ
Dear friend,

We have been introduced to the Christmas shopping season already even before our national holiday of Thanksgiving was celebrated. During this time of the year plans and preparations are made for get togethers, parties, and gatherings of various natures, which are meant to bring us together with others in community.. Ultimately the reason for this blessed time of the year comes out of the most amazing event that ever happened: God came in the flesh, born in a manger as one of us so that He might rescue us from sin, from death and from the devil.

The anticipation that one notices in children is heartwarming, as they talk eagerly of what they would like for Christmas, of how they beg to open one of their presents that lies under the tree and of how disappointed they are when they are told that they must wait. and wait...and wait. To them it seems like Christmas is eons in the future..

Christmas is coming again this year, as it has even since that first Christmas. Those who have come before us have understood of the importance of observing the Advent Season (Advent=Coming), during which they have remembered His first Advent and looked to His second Advent at the end of the age, of the world. They have recognized that even though Christmas comes and goes every year, yet through the reading, hearing and meditation of His Word, through prayer over His Word and through sharing in His Word and in His Sacraments with others, it is as if Christmas comes in a fresh, in a living and in a revitalizing way each year.

May we learn from the children who eagerly anticipate and await the time of Christmas. They know that that is when their waiting in expectant hope will be rewarded. In the same way, our waiting in expectant hope to receive afresh the greatest Gift that has ever been given will be rewarded from heaven above through God coming to us this season.
Today we are going to baptize Marina Lee-Nobles Lyrek here in the midst of our worship service. Two scriptures have been chosen today which give the ‚€œbig picture‚€Ě of the meaning and significance of Holy Baptism. Matthew 3:13-17 relates of Jesus, the Son of God and the Lamb who takes away the sin of the world and of how He was baptized/joined into all humanity so that all justice might be fulfilled. Through His Baptism He became our Representative, our Substitute.

The second scripture is found in Apostle Paul‚€™s 2nd letter to the Corinthian church, 2 Cor 5:17-6:2. This letter explains of what took place as the result of Jesus‚€™ first advent, and of how the Incarnation of Jesus reversed the effects of our fall into sin. Allow me to place these verses for our benefit.

17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.
18 And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation;
19 To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.
20 Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God.
21 For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

KJV 2 Corinthians 6:1 We then, as workers together with him, beseech you also that ye receive not the grace of God in vain.

What these verses explain is that God has remade humanity through the birth, life, death, burial, resurrection and ascension of Jesus the Christ!! Let me repeat this for emphasis, ‚€œGod has done it all with us having no part of it but being recipients of the grace of God.‚€Ě Jesus has taken our place entirely, with us being the cause of Him having to do so, and as a result of His substitutionary atonement, God is NOT counting anyone‚€™s sins against them!!! Can we believe that? It is true!! This is what is reality, this is what God has done for ALL people everywhere!

Look at 6:1, the last verse I put before us: Paul is pleading with his eaders and hearers: ‚€œRecognize what God has done, believe it to your soul‚€™s salvation, joy and freedom. He has poured His grace out upon you, so do not receive this gift in vain!‚€Ě In other words, God says, I have given you forgiveness of your sins, freely with you having no part of it, and I gave this to you because I love you dearly and want you to come to me. Don‚€™t let your sinful estimation of yourself stop you from coming to me, but rather because of my open arms of love, of grace and of mercy run to me with your need of union with Me and my Son.

I have already baptized (united) you unto myself through my Son, now believe that which I have done was for you as a past act that I accomplished. Be baptized (united) to this reality through faith, through believing that which I have done on your behalf.

So, dear Marina, you have been joined unto God through Jesus Christ from before the foundation of the world,

KJV Ephesians 1:4 According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:

And today in Holy Baptism, the testimony of that which God has done for you and in you has been shown. Whatever happens in life, never forget that you are His offspring through His saving acts and don‚€™t let anyone ever take away from you that which God has done for you. As you grow, may the knowledge of His grace and truth continually grow through your parents training and teaching, through your own desire to learn more of your Saviour through private and public devotions in His Word.

Dear reader, know today that regardless of your past experience, know that you have been baptized/joined first of all unto God through the cross and resurrection of Jesus Christ. If you have fallen away from this knowledge, I call upon you to remember this Baptism, the one that Jesus Christ accomplished for you through the work of God.

You have been baptized into Christ, and I call upon you to believe that today and receive all the benefit that comes with it: The forgiveness of sins, the filling by the Holy Spirit, a life that lives in the eternal perspective and a life that will never end!!!!!

May you be blessed in this Advent season by His coming to you.

Pastor Orval Wirkkala

Posted on 27 Nov 2016 by Pastor Orval Wirkkala
Christ our King
This Sunday is celebrated as Christ the King Sunday. On this day we celebrate His Kingship and of our belonging to His Kingdom. It is a kingdom unlike any other kingdom that the world has ever known or ever will know. Our King sacrificed Himself to bring His kingdom to pass, as we read in Luke‚€™s Gospel, Chapter 23: 32-43

32 And there were also two other, malefactors, led with him to be put to death.
33 And when they were come to the place, which is called Calvary, there they crucified him, and the malefactors, one on the right hand, and the other on the left.
34 Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots.
35 And the people stood beholding. And the rulers also with them derided him, saying, He saved others; let him save himself, if he be Christ, the chosen of God.
36 And the soldiers also mocked him, coming to him, and offering him vinegar,
37 And saying, If thou be the king of the Jews, save thyself.
38 And a superscription also was written over him in letters of Greek, and Latin, and Hebrew, THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS.
39 And one of the malefactors which were hanged railed on him, saying, If thou be Christ, save thyself and us.
40 But the other answering rebuked him, saying, Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation?
41 And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss.
42 And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.
43 And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.

This kingdom is described quite well by the songwriter::

A Crown of Thorns (Ira Stamphill)

There was no crown for Him of silver or of gold
There was no diadem for Him to hold.
But blood adorned His brow,
And proud its stain He bore,
And sinners gave to Him the crown He wore.

A rugged cross became His throne
His kingdom was in hearts alone
He wrote His love in crimson red
And wore the thorns upon His head.

He did not reign upon a throne of ivory
But died upon the cross of Calvary.
For sinners there He counted all He owned but loss
And He surveyed His kingdom from a cross.

No purple robe He wore,
His bleeding wounds to hide
But stripes upon His back He wore with pride.
And from the wounds there flowed a crimson,
cleansing stream
That was a cover for the soul unclean.

There was a teenage girl who had a hard time understanding the meaning of the cross and thought that it was shameful that someone had to die such a cruel death for the sins of other people. She had a mother who was very beautiful--she was very beautiful excepting her hands, and her hands were shrunken and shriveled and unsightly. For a long time, during her girlhood, she said nothing on the matter; but at last her curiosity overpowered her. "Mother," she said, "I love your beautiful face, and I love your beautiful eyes and brow and neck; but I cannot love your hands, they are so ugly." Then her mother told her the story of her hands. She said, "When you were an infant sleeping in your cradle, one night the cry of fire rang through the house. I rushed upstairs--the nursery was ablaze--but God led me right to the cradle and I saved you; but ever since then my hands have been like this." The little girl was silent for a moment. Then she said "O mother, I still love your face: but I love your hands now. best of all.

Now she understood the meaning of the cross and why Jesus had to suffer such degrading treatment. It was for her sin that He came, He was her Saviour and her King. She now realized that she was a child of the King! Now instead of being repulsed by His appearance, she looked upon Him in His suffering with sorrow yes, but also with thankfulness to Him and love for Him.

How about you and I? Do we get it? Do we get it that God has reconnected Himself to all humanity through the cross of Christ, that He is not counting anyone‚€™s sins against them, including ourselves and that He longs for us to live in the continual awareness and knowledge through faith?

Which thief on the cross alongside Jesus do we find ourselves relating to? The one who did not know his sin or the one who recognized and acknowledged his sin? The one who remained blind to his Redeemer or the one who realized that he was guilty and deserved his punishment?

Are we the one who remains silent before our Redeemer or are we the one who acknowledges our need for the redemption/forgiveness that comes from the One on the middle cross who knew no sin, but became sin for us that we might become righteous through Him? 2 Corinthians 5:17-21

Are we the one who remained ignorant or blind to our need of forgiveness and therefore remained silent before our Saviour? Or are we the one who has cried out the words that have rung through out history from the hearts of those who had nowhere to turn for forgiveness but through Christ. Have we in some shape or form cried out: ‚€œLord, remember me when you come into your kingdom.‚€Ě

Jesus heard the dying and repentant thief on that day, He has heard millions throughout the ages when they cried to Him in their need, and He will hear all those who cry unto Him in their need of forgiveness today. Dear friend, He wants all to know this amazing gift of grace and forgiveness, for that is His greatest desire as our King: To gather as many as will into His kingdom that lasts forever and forever‚€¦..

Pastor Orval Wirkkala

Posted on 22 Nov 2016 by Pastor Orval Wirkkala

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Baptized into Christ
- Posted by Pastor Orval Wirkkala

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Carol Fischer and her family as they grieve the loss of Bob